November 06, 2004

Deleuze and Guattari on the (relative) superiority of English Imperialism

Follow-up to Migration and geophilosophy from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

We do not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack creation. We lack resistance to the present. (What Is Philosophy? p.108)

In consumer capitalism, Deleuze and Guattari claim, the milieu of the Greeks, the relative deterritorialization of concepts, is impossible. Philosophy is impossible. The firgures of communication, of an ecstacy of communication as Baudrillard described, repeat a single concept, consumer acquisition. No two incommensurable concepts are brought together in a state of relative deterritorialization. There is no resistance. Everything is immediately deterritorialized absolutely (the acquisition claims to make all the difference), and just as quickly reterritorialized (the acquisition makes no difference, follows the same familar order).

There is a diifferent English capitalism, they claim. In the chapter on Geophilosophy, they describe the real drive behind the English imperialism, as something by which neither the Germans nor the French were motivated. Not just a desire to be Greek (as in Heidegger) but more importantly:

…the English are precisely those nomads who treat the plane of immanance as a movable and moving ground, a field of radical experience, an archipelegian world where they are happy to pitch their tents from island to island and over the sea. The English nomadize over the old Greek earth, broken up, fractalized, and extended to the universe…a concept is acquired by pitching one's tent, by inhabiting it, by contracting a habit. (p.105)

English philosophy then is a curious form of travel writing, of travelling along with the great heroes of the Empire (what a misnomer): T.E. Lawrence and Alexander the Great.

And the point at which English Imperialism becomes violent, imposing, extending a State, is at that point at which its subjugated people's pack up their own tents and seek to move on, move away from the romantic ideal: Lawrence being appalled by the Arab desire for Rolls-Royce rather than camel, for their own Capital as much as the oasis:

Europeanization does not constitute a becoming but merely the history of capitalism, which prevents the becoming of subjected peoples. (p. 108)

It just isn't cricket anymore.

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